Beira Patrol

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1972.

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Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West 12:00 am, 20th April 1972

asked the Minister of State for Defence how many men, ships and aircraft are now involved in the Beira Patrol.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will make a statement about recent interceptions of ships by the Beira patrol; and what is its present strength of men-of-war and aircraft.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

It is not the practice to give details of operational deployments, but the way the Beira patrol operates has varied to meet changing circumstances. The only interception this year was that of the Portuguese Tanker "Sao Mamede" on 17th March.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Does the Minister agree that, contrary to the cynicism of some, the Beira patrol has achieved its objective in stopping the flow of oil through the Beira pipeline? Does he not agree that, if the Pearce Commission finds that the proposed settlement on Rhodesia is unacceptable to the majority of people in Rhodesia, we must now give a categorical assurance that we will maintain the patrol, if necessary extend it and bring all possible pressure to bear on Portugal and South Africa to stop by other means sabotage of the sanctions policy?

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

I agree with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question and have frequently said so. On the second part I refer to the hon. Gentleman to the answers given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 27th March.

Photo of Mr Anthony Fell Mr Anthony Fell , Yarmouth

Although I understand that for security reasons the Minister cannot give the actual answer to my question, will he nevertheless promise that if he were able to answer "Nil" he would give us the answer, and will he be able to give that answer in about four or five months' time?

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

That also is probably a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common wealth Affairs.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that as long as there are nations which are prepared to disregard the United Nations resolution on Rhodesia, the Beira patrol will be maintained to prevent blockade-breaking?

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

That is certainly a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

asked the Minister of State for Defence what arrangements have been made for resiting the Royal Air Force Shackletons which have been operating in support of the Beira patrol following their withdrawal from the Malagasy Republic.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

None, Sir. However, I am satisfied that the obligation which was imposed by Security Council Resolution 221 can still be fulfilled.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

I am grateful for the first part of my hon. Friend's reply. Is he satisfied that, without this aerial support, the Beira patrol will be able satisfactorily to offer a proper salute to supplies of Rhodesian chrome and other materials, which British companies alone are not allowed to buy, as they pass out of Beira towards United States ports and other destinations throughout the world?

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

A splendid supplementary question!

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

I am satisfied that the Beira patrol will be able to carry out the task assigned to it, which is to prevent oil entering the Port of Beira.